ENDGAME: AIDS in Black America| FRONTLINE (Documentary)

“1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV. For years, Blacks have been most impacted by the disease. Black men make up 11% of the U.S. population, but represent 42% of the new HIV infections. Black women comprise 12% of the U.S. population, yet they account for 64% of all new female HIV/AIDS infections. One in 32 black women will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime. One in 16 black men will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetimes. If Black America were its own country, it would rank 16th in the world for people living with HIV.” -NAACP


Endgame: AIDS in Black America traces the history of the epidemic through the experiences of extraordinary individuals who tell their stories: people like Nel, a 63-year-old grandmother who married a deacon in her church and later found an HIV diagnosis tucked into his Bible; Tom and Keith, survivors who were children born with the virus in the early 1990s; and Jovanté, a high school football player who didn’t realize what HIV meant until it was too late. From Magic Johnson to civil rights pioneer Julian Bond, from pastors to health workers, people on the front lines tell moving stories of the battle to contain the spread of the virus, and the opportunity to finally turn the tide of the epidemic.

End Game: AIDS in Black America aired on July 10, 2012.

ENDGAME: AIDS in Black America | PBS Frontline (Full Length)


Swaziland: Desperate HIV+ People Eating Cow Dung to Sustain Treatment | PlusNews Global

MBABANE, 28 July 2011 (PlusNews) – Organizations fighting HIV/AIDS in Swaziland were at first incredulous at reports that hundreds of impoverished HIV-positive rural residents were eating cow dung to give their stomachs something to digest before taking their antiretrovirals (ARVs).

“It seemed too sensational to me when I first heard it, but then an MP stood up in parliament and said it was in his area that people on ARVs were doing this,” said Wandile Khoza, an AIDS activist in Swaziland’s central commercial hub Manzini. “It has come to this; the food insecurity most Swazis are experiencing has come up against the world’s highest HIV prevalence rate.”

The Swaziland National Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (SWANNEPHA) confirmed that some of its members were consuming cow dung after MP Josephs Souza of rural Lugongolweni reported first-hand knowledge of the practice following visits to his HIV-positive constituents.

“A rural health motivator took me to one of the patients on ARVs who is among those that now mix cow dung with water and then eat it before taking the tablets,” the MP told parliament.

“We have resorted to eating rubbish for purposes of taking our ARVs because they must be consumed after a meal,” said SWANNEPHA in a statement.

Research shows that taking ARVs on an empty stomach can exacerbate the side-effects of the drugs, including headaches, dizziness and tremors.

Excerpt, read:  Swaziland: Desperate HIV+ People Eating Cow Dung to Sustain Treatment| PlusNews Global

30 Years of AIDS –By Fauci & Folkers | The Advocate

“The global HIV/AIDS epidemic is an unprecedented crisis that requires an unprecedented response. In particular it requires solidarity — between the healthy and the sick, between rich and poor, and above all, between richer and poorer nations. We have 30 million orphans already. How many more do we have to get, to wake up?” ~Kofi A. Annan, Fmr. Sec. General of the United Nations

Thirty years ago, the first five cases of what is now known as the acquired immune deficiency syndrome were reported in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The amount of knowledge gained since then has been extraordinary, and the pace at which research findings have been translated into lifesaving treatments and tools of prevention is unprecedented, although much remains to be done with regard to delivering the fruits of this research to the people who need them most.

The discovery of the human immunodeficiency virus as the cause of AIDS in 1983-1984 was followed by an understanding of how HIV leads to AIDS; the natural history and epidemiology of the disease; the creation of a diagnostic blood test; and the development over the years of more than 30 antiretroviral drugs. The approval of the first protease inhibitors in 1995-1996 paved the way for powerful, multi-drug antiretroviral therapy. The many combination regimens now available using different classes of antiretroviral drugs have dramatically improved the quality of life and extended the life expectancy of people with HIV. An HIV-infected person properly treated with this combination therapy — and provided other needed care and services — now can expect to live for decades after being diagnosed.

Antiretroviral treatment regimens also can prevent HIV infection. When given to pregnant HIV-infected women and their newborns, these drugs have been enormously successful in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Moreover, just three weeks ago, a rigorous, controlled clinical trial conducted in nine countries confirmed another potent way to apply treatment as prevention.

The study results were striking: Among more than 1,700 heterosexual couples in which one partner was HIV-infected and the other was not, starting combination antiretroviral therapy immediately in the infected partner when blood tests indicate his or her immune system is still strong resulted in a 96% reduction in HIV transmission to the uninfected partner, compared with deferring treatment until the same tests showed the immune system to be weaker.

This recent report confirms that combination therapy not only benefits the infected individual but also can reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to others. By confirming that this type of therapy can do double duty as treatment and prevention, this study has energized the medical, public health, and activist communities. In addition to its role in protecting babies from infection, “treatment as prevention” to block sexual transmission now can be added to our toolkit of proven HIV prevention interventions, which also includes behavioral modification, condom distribution, the provision of clean needles and syringes to injection drug users, medically supervised adult male circumcision, and other approaches.

Meanwhile, other recent progress in HIV research gives us hope that we soon will have additional prevention tools. Notably, a once-a-day pill combining two antiretroviral drugs was shown to reduce the risk of HIV acquisition in men who have sex with men (MSM), and an antiretroviral-based, vaginally applied gel did the same for heterosexual women.

Although a protective HIV vaccine remains elusive, we are encouraged by the recent demonstration that a vaccine tested in Thailand provided modest protection against HIV. Researchers now are examining blood samples and data from the Thai trial to determine how the vaccine prevented HIV infections, information that will help guide efforts to improve on those results.

Scientists also are pursuing many other research avenues, including structure-based vaccine design. With this approach, researchers characterize in exquisite detail key molecules on the HIV virus and use these structures to design new components for next-generation HIV vaccine candidates.

Entering the fourth decade of HIV/AIDS, our task is to build on these advances and deliver scientifically validated interventions to everyone who needs them, both in the United States and abroad. Six in ten HIV-infected people in developing countries who need combination antiretroviral therapy are not receiving it, which puts their health and that of their sexual partners at risk.

Domestically, access to treatment and care also is not optimal. A recent analysis estimated that of the 1.1 million people living with HIV in the United States, approximately 20% are unaware of their infection. And within the entire group of infected people, only about 19% have a viral load that has been driven to undetectable levels by combination therapy. Both at home and globally, greater numbers of HIV-infected individuals need to be identified early in the course of their disease through expanded voluntary HIV testing programs and linkage to appropriate care and antiretroviral treatment.

In addition, prevention programs using proven tools must be dramatically “scaled up,” refined, improved, and made more cost-effective. At the same time, we must continue to develop additional effective prevention strategies.

We also must find innovative approaches to curing HIV/AIDS by eradicating or permanently suppressing the virus in infected people, thereby eliminating the need for lifelong antiretroviral therapy. In this regard, important new research is being undertaken by the National Institutes of Health and other organizations. A robust research effort is critical to address the malignancies, cardiovascular and metabolic complications, and premature aging associated with long-term HIV disease and/or antiretroviral therapy.

Despite these challenges and the huge burden of this modern-day plague, we now look at the fight against HIV/AIDS – and our chances of prevailing – with considerably more optimism than we previously have felt. With the medical and public health tools now or soon-to-be available, controlling and ending the global HIV/AIDS pandemic are feasible goals.

Unfortunately, we are in a difficult situation of considerable global constraints on resources to support this goal. Every effort must be made to efficiently apply existing resources so that proven interventions are delivered in the most cost-effective manner. In addition, public-sector, commercial and philanthropic commitments to HIV/AIDS research and implementation of proven findings must be sustained and strengthened with the investment of additional resources to ensure that HIV treatment and prevention services are universally available to the people who need them, wherever they live.With a global commitment, we can control and ultimately end the HIV/AIDS pandemic. On this commemoration of the 30-year anniversary, let us recommit ourselves to that goal.

This column is provided by Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health-care policy organization that is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

Reprint: 30 Years of AIDS –By Anthony S. Fauci & Gregory K. Folkers |The Advocate

The Passing of Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011)

Dame Elizabeth Rosemond “Liz” Taylor, DBE (February 27, 1932 – March 23, 2011) was an English-born American actress. From her early years as a child star with MGM, she became one of the great screen actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Age, and one of the most famous film stars in the world. Taylor was recognized not only as a talented and award-winning actress, but also for her glamorous lifestyle and beauty, with distinctive violet eyes.

At the age of 12, National Velvet (1944) made Taylor famous. She acted in over 50 films, including such classics as Father of the Bride (1950), A Place in the Sun (1951), and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958). Taylor won the Academy Award for Best Actress for BUtterfield 8 (1960), and again for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) with husband Richard Burton.

Taylor’s much publicized personal life included eight marriages, several life-threatening illnesses, and decades spent as an outspoken advocate for AIDS awareness, research and cure. She was named a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire and received the Presidential Citizens Medal and the Legion of Honour. The American Film Institute named Taylor seventh on its Female Legends list, and in 1993 awarded her an AFI Life Achievement Award. Taylor died of congestive heart failure at the age of 79.

Source: Wikipedia

Opposition to India-E.U. Trade Deal on HIV Drugs| Al Jazeera (Video)

India is one of the world’s largest producers of generic drugs.

But a proposed Free Trade Agreement with the European Union could curb the supply of affordable drugs to millions of people. Many fear that multinational pharmaceutical companies will be the only ones allowed to produce and sell them. The proposed deal will particularly affect millions of HIV positive patients in poor countries, who depend on generic drugs for their survival.

Suffering in the Name of Religion: India’s ‘Devadasi Girls – By Tracy Mcveigh |Guardian UK

Hanumvva talks about devadasi life in Sex, Death and Gods by Beeban Kidron. / Photo: BBC

When she was a three, the red and white beads tied around her neck by the adults in her southern Indian village were a plaything for Hanamavva.

But they marked out her future; never allowed to be married, she was now ostensibly a “servant of God”, a devadasi. Hanamavva had been dedicated to the Hindu goddess Vellamma, an ancient practice which once might have won her a future of comfort and respect, but now doomed her to a squalid life as a prostitute from the age of 13.

“I just wanted to kill myself – I planned to climb to the roof of the brothel and throw myself off but the thought of leaving my family destitute prevented me,” she said. It was five years before she could escape, with her two young sons, and try to make a new life for herself. But even then she still had to fend off the constant –sometimes violent – sexual harrassment by men in her village.

But now Hanamavva has joined a growing grassroots movement in the Indian states where the illegal practice survives. Former devadasi who brave the stigma and social pressures to leave the way of life have formed self-help groups and are fighting to stop other children being dedicated to what is no longer a holy calling to the temples but a direct path into sexual exploitation.

Like Shobha, now 36, who joined a group and now visits devadasi women, offering support to those who want to leave and trying to convince families not to dedicate their children. She runs awareness programmes at temples and fairs, trying to gather support in communities and lobbying district officials for help for devadasi old and young.

It is an uphill battle in some wretchedly poor provinces where selling a daughter under a divine mandate – often encouraged by the local priest or a powerful villager with an eye on the girl for himself – might be the only way to feed the rest of a family.

Shobha was the youngest of seven children and was dedicated aged eight. At 12, she was taken out of school and her first paying “partner” was her 35-year-old brother-in-law. “No one asked my consent, money talks. Girls like me grow up in living fear of reaching puberty.” She was determined that her own daughter would escape the same fate. “The devadasi system isn’t about religion. Its about economics. We’re just traded like a commodity. I know the pains as a serving devadasi, how exploitative this practice is. We are the victims. What happened to me shouldn’t happen in another’s life. I want to stop this and I decided to fight.”

Sometimes several generations from the same family are devadasi, like Lalitha, whose mother and grandmother were dedicated before her. Like Hanamavva, however, Lalitha is determined to stop the practice. “I was shocked to find out I have to practice this system because I have been dedicated. I was determined not to become devadasi. In my village there are 100 devadasi. About 20 are between 12 and 18. I try to persuade all my friends not to get into this evil practice but they are vulnerable. Both the parents and the community are pressuring them.”

Devadasi remain common in the poorest towns and villages of provinces of the states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. In 2006, the National Legal Service Authority in Bangalore launched an awareness programme for police and judges, and said there were 250,000 “devadasi” girls who had been dedicated to Yellamma and Khandoba temples. But the remoteness of many of the villages, and the continuing rise in demand from organised traffickers who pay well for young girls to fill the brothels of India‘s vast cities, is thwarting efforts to combat the system.

“The social customs combined with economic pressures have pushed girls into the system. The fact that not one of them is married and most of them have children not only leaves them in a traumatized condition but renders their children stigmatized forever,” said an authority spokesman.

Stretching back for centuries, the original devadasi were trained in prayer, dance and music. Holy enough to bring blessings and banish the “evil eye”, they were often courtesans but with a freedom of control over their lives that was not permitted to ordinary Indian women. It was British colonialists, with their Victorian morality, who first outlawed the practice. The Indian government followed suit in the 1980s.

This present practice is far from those ancient customs, however. Anna Feuchtwang, chief executive of the international charity EveryChild, the only NGO working with the women of southern India to tackle devadasi, said the issue was a child protection one.

“The sexual exploitation of children, which takes place with this practice is illegal and must be stopped. Action is needed in India to strengthen child protection and tackle the root causes of poverty which drive families to dedicate their daughters.”

EveryChild has helped with the making of a unique documentary about the devadasi to be broadcast on the BBC4 on Monday 24 January. In Sex, Death and the Gods, by Beeban Kidron, many women trapped in the system talked of their lack of options, pressures from family and community, and the threat of HIV and AIDS.

Reprint: Why India’s ‘Devadasi’ Girls Face Wretched Life in Name of Religion – By Tracy Mcveigh |Guardian UK

Related: Devadasi: A Life Without Education |Video Volunteers